After my last post on the simple activity to get faster, basically run more ( http://www.runbkrun.com/2017/10/02/the-secret-to-running-a-marathon-faster-really-is-quite-simple/ ) my running buddy Ken ‘The Duck’ Dacre summed up my post in a few sentences; basically…..
For people with limited time reading it.
To run a marathon you need distance
To run a good one you need quality on top of the distance.
Ken Dacre Systems Administrator
I replied to Ken and highlighted his rookie error when it comes to blogging, you need quantity and quality, not one of either. He has so much to learn but he did have a good point . Distance will get you cardio fitness and allow you to run a marathon but, as he rightly points out, (which if you know Ken you’ll know this is not the norm!) to run a good time you need to add pace.
There are many type of ‘pace’ runs that will help towards your goal including tempo, thresholds, VO2 max, fartlek’s, intervals the list is quite long with many variations but the one session that every marathon runner needs to take on is the long run at MP (Marathon Pace). This is when the magic happens and you can dial in your goal pace. There really is no point aiming for a finish time and then never running the required average pace for any length of time. A long run at MP allows you to test out what it will feel like on the big day , and although you will be better prepared come race day, after a good taper and a few muffins (gotta’ love carbo-loading) , this run allows to get some quality race practice and also give you some confidence.
When I was training with Raf in 2015 ( http://www.therunningcentre.com.au ) the MP run was a 15k warm up at 4:15min/k pace and then 20k at 3:50min/k pace. I remember struggling with this session as it looked beyond me but on the day I ran the required time and distance and felt great afterwards. It was a real confidence booster. These are the sessions that make the difference, ones you see coming in your training plan and actually worry about completing them , knowing the pain time coming your way.
Another one of Raf’s favourite sessions was the 3 * 5km, at 5k pace, with 3 minutes rest in between. I christened this bad boy the ‘pain train’ session because as you complete each of the three 5km’s (at race pace) ; you know the next one will be even tougher and more painful. The last one is as much an exercise in pain measurement as running. The benefit of these is when you have finished them you feel awesome and this alone is worth the pain you will embrace while running.
A similar run is one of my all time favourites the Mona Fartlek. Names after its inventor the great Steve Monaghetti and described below :-
Steve Moneghetti is set to leave a lasting legacy that goes beyond his set of marathon medals. As a young man from Ballarat he and coach Chris Wardlaw devised a session that fitted in with his usual stomping ground of Lake Wendouree helped him become a four-time Olympian.
The Session:Mona Fartlek: (2x90sec, 4x60sec, 4x30sec, 4x15sec with a slower tempo recovery of the same time between each repetition. The session takes 20mins in total.
Distance Mona covered: The session was most often used on Tuesday night at Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree. The first time Mona did it as a 20-year-old he did not complete the Lap of the Lake (6km) in the 20minutes but in his prime he completed the Lake in 17.19 and then continued on to finish his 20min session. He still does it most Tuesdays and even at 52, covers 6km.
Mona devised the session with his coach Chris Wardlaw over the phone back in 1983 when he was just 20. He wanted a solid fartlek session, one that would help improve his speed as well as endurance and stimulate an ability to change pace mid-run, something that helped later on his career when tackling the Africans, who had a habit of surging mid-race.
The session became a Tuesday-night ritual for Mona and while it was set up for Lake Wendouree, he’d use it whether training at altitude at Falls Creek or overseas preparing for a championship marathon.
It is still widely used today with Ben Moreau and a host of Sydney athletes doing the session. A recent feature in the UK has led to a number of British runners adopting the session along with a number of runners in the US, although some are calling it the “Mono” session.
A good idea is to set your watch to beep every 30 seconds, so that you don’t have to look down at it all the time.
“I was always a stickler for routine and I feel that this session, coupled with my usual Thursday night session of 8x400m with 200m float set me up and gave me continuity with my training.
The 15-second reps came at the end and really forced me to concentrate on accelerating hard when I was fatigued. One night when I was in top shape I covered nearly 7km with Troopy (Lee Troop).”
Tip for other distance runners
For many runners, the session will be too demanding initially and you will need to build into it.
Mona recommends just walking or jogging the recovery as you adjust to it.
Middle distance runners may wish to reduce the length of the session, halving everything (ie: 1x90sec, 2x60sec, 2x30sec, 2x15sec) to make it a 10minute session.
The benefit of a Mona is the session is over in 20 minutes, the same time for all runners. The distance travelled of course will vary depending on ability. Personally I can get to around 5.6k, normally with a tail wind if I can find one!, so I’m a long way of Mona at his best and even Mona now. Surprising that given his pedigree of World Record holder, Commonwealth Games Champion and Olympian, while I won a couple of WAMC club runs ? There is a striking resemble mind, as shown below, when we met at a photo shoot for the Perth Chevron sponsored City to Surf. (I’m the pretty one with the beard…)
So to sum up this post we have addressed Golden Rule no2 in my 9 golden rules of running. :-
Apparently people take more notice of odd numbered lists according to my good friend and triathlete coach extraordinaire Phil Mosley. ( http://www.myprocoach.net/ ) We discussed this on a medium long run earlier in the week but that is a story for another day…
On the weekend I ran the Rottnest Marathon for the 11th time, marathon number 43…